I-526 project forces 100 homeowners to relocate: ‘I was born in that house’

Published: Aug. 27, 2022 at 5:40 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 28, 2022 at 5:31 AM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Transportation hosted an event Saturday to review the I-526 Lowcountry Corridor WEST project. Officials from SCDOT answered questions and concerns from community members that the project may be affecting.

The segment of I-526 between I-26 and Virginia Avenue is the most congested segment of interstate highway in the state. It links downtown Charleston, Summerville, West Ashley and Mount Pleasant, according to the project’s website.

Although the plan will reduce traffic, 100 residents will have to relocate for the changes to be made. When Margaret Grubb’s told her mother that she would have to relocate, she could not even imagine moving away from her house of almost 70 years.

“She doesn’t handle it at all,” Margaret said. “She avoids the topic. She walks away. She’s very upset and she says, ‘maybe I should just live under a bridge.’ That’s how she feels. She feels like that absolutely no one cares because she was forgotten.”

Both Margaret and her husband, Ronald Grubb, understand why the project needs to happen. For Grubb’s mother, she said it would be a traumatic move, and moving at her old age would be detrimental to her health.

“I was born in that house,” Margaret said. “I just can’t imagine not driving down that road and seeing that house. I don’t want to think about it because I’m trying to be strong for my mother, but it’s very hard for me to be strong. My dad put all his heart and soul into that property. I mean, he planted the flowers. He planted the grass, the trees, he did everything in that property to make it special for our family.”

Joy Riley, SCDOT Project director, said construction will not get started until all residents have been relocated to replacement housing they are planning on building. The meeting at Ferndale Community Center involved SCDOT officials updating the community mitigation plan and speaking with the community directly about their concerns.

“Just like the input that they gave us last year really drove some of the additional mitigation items that were added this year,” Riley said. “Input is extremely important. Community mitigation is about creating a benefit for that specific community. And really, it’s really the community members that drive that process. We need them to tell us what is going to create a benefit in their community.”

The I-526 Lowcountry Corridor WEST project spans approximately 9.7 miles between Paul Cantrell Boulevard in West Ashley and Virginia Avenue in North Charleston.